“The hospital is cheating us out of our money”

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After getting back the results of the blood works and confirming that I am indeed pregnant, the next time I see the doctor she sends me to do blood works again. And three days after that, again. It’s too soon to do an ultrasound yet. But why does she send me to do blood works every three days? The doctor kind of makes us believe that this is necessary to monitor the hormones (which are at perfectly normal levels, by the way).

We ask others who have been pregnant in the past and they confirm that it isn’t necessary to do blood works every three days. So one day after the doctor wants to send me to do blood works for the xth time, Y is furious: “The hospital is cheating us out of our money. We’ll have to find another hospital.” And sure enough, this is the last time we are at this one hospital.

One of our female co-workers recommends a hospital that is specialised in treating women and kids and isn’t too far from our place. It’s crowded and not exactly a hospital where I would like to give birth to our child, but it seems to be perfectly okay for normal check-ups. The doctor sends me to do an ultrasound and tells us to come back in three weeks’ time, at pregnancy week 10, which does sound reasonable.

Being pregnant in a country where things work completely differently from your home country can be a challenge, but a doctor who makes you feel worried about your baby’s health although there should have been nothing to worry about? Now that’s a completely different story.

P.S.: In many cases, doctors in China earn very little considering the costs of their education and the responsibility that comes with their job. They often receive bonuses if they prescribe medicine or send patients to do lab tests, leading to doctors prescribing a lot more medicine and lab tests than would be medically necessary.

Have you ever had the feeling that a doctor wanted to cheat you for your money?

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About

Hi, I'm Ruth, welcome to China Elevator Stories! I have been living in Kunming and Shenzhen in the past and am now staying in Northeast China with my Chinese husband and our baby and toddler son. Join us on our journey bridging worlds!

45 comments

  1. That was indeed strange with the first doctor. After the first bloodtest you usually have several weeks time until the next appointment. Here in Finland it is nice that you meet with a midwife nearly every week to monitor your health and everything is for free. However doctors here (at least the public health ones) can be really annoying as they always give me painkillers, no matter what problems I have 🙁

  2. Congrats on the pregnancy. Your last paragraph explains it all, indeed it’s the reason why baby formula is so widespread over there – because hospitals will happily accept the donations (bribes) from large companies, domestic and foreign, who are pushing their milk formula product (along with freebies to temp them) to vulnerable mothers, despite giving misinformation, with them saying it’s better than breastfeeding. Feel sorry for the Chinese mums there, being told lies when they are trying to recover.

    • Thx! I recently passed by the gynecology ward at Beida hospital in Shenzhen and there was actually an advertisement for breast milk, saying something like “Drinking breast milk will keep your child healthy”. I think many moms here give their kids milk formula because they have to work during the day and they consider it to be easier than pumping and storing breast milk.

  3. Congratulations! No need of continue holding back! So much joy!
    Now take it easy and chose a nice midwife who cares about you but does not stress you out! 😉

    Regarding your PS note, during my time working in the Pharmaceutical Industry in China I learned all that..and I can tell you doctors do get plenty (PLENTY) of money from pharmaceutical companies.

  4. Congrats again! When is the baby expected? 🙂
    I hope you tell us more about the whole process. I am specifically curious about how much it costs to give birth. Is it the same for Chinese and for foreigners? And if you feel in any moment that the doctors are pressuring you to have a cesarean section (as I feel by the women around me that the C-section rate is pretty high in China).
    Sorry if I make too many questions, haha. But I have thought a lot about this issue as I want to be prepared when my time comes 😉

    • Thx! The due date is in July. We’re planning to give birth in Austria, so I won’t be able to write about giving birth in China, but I have scheduled some posts about being pregnant here. Giving birth at a hospital in my husband’s hometown would cost 3000 CNY, but I imagine it to be quite a bit more expensive if you live in one of the bigger cities. Of course, the price also depends on the hospital (eg. public or private), how long you stay at the hospital after giving birth, if you require your own private room after giving birth and so on.

      • I see. In fact I had also thought about going back to Spain to give birth if I have a baby… it’s just more convenient.
        Hope you have a good pregnancy! I’ll stay tuned for your news 🙂

  5. Congratulations! I don’t think the hospital is cheating you but it depends on the level of medical attention and that is mainly a cultural thing. Repeating blood exams every three days is meant to check that the betaHCG level is increasing at a normal rate. You could of course do it only once and then wait for a scan but in some countries and cultures you prefer to keep it under control so that patients can be reassured. The 3-4 weeks waiting before the first scan can be very long, especially if you had bad previous experiences. Briefly: in Northern Europe they limit medical care to the strictly necessary but checking more and more often is not bad per se nor a fraud. It reflects a different attitude. I am Italian and in Italy everything is OVER medicalized. They do blood and urine tests every single month of pregnancy while in Belgium you only get it twice over 9 months. Having been raised in Italy, it took me some time to adjust to the idea that I won’t be able to know all the time how my pregnancy is progressing and – most of all – to the fact that I don’t have my doctor’s mobile number and I can’t contact him directly if I need to. Good luck!

    • Thanks for your comment! Checking more often and making sure that everything is okay surely is cultural, but we asked other people who’ve been pregnant (and who are Chinese, so they are used to how things are done here) if they had all these tests early into pregnancy and they all said no. Of course you can watch betaHCG levels, but a doctor can ask a patient if they are okay with checking it that often (we weren’t and we told her that we didn’t like the idea of doing blood works that often). Going to the hospital that often in early pregnancy was quite exhausting and I think it would have been better – and healthier – to just relax at home instead.

      • Ok, I get it now. I guess health care isn’t publicly funded in China, right? In Belgium, where public health works very well on one side you have less check up and only the necessary ones (to reduce the burden on the public system) but on the other side because of these restrictions, people are crazy for extra- blood tests! So we all drove to the one hospital where you can get a betaHCG test without prescription (and of course then you have to pay privately for that). In this sense I think it is a cultural thing:)

  6. wee! 🙂 I’m so happy for you two 🙂 I wish you and your baby a lot of health and don’t push yourself too much! 🙂
    everyone already asked what I wanted to ask so just congratulations again 🙂 I think now I’m as excited as you two are, haha 🙂 cannot wait for your pregnancy posts 🙂

  7. Congratulations! You look very happy. I was sort of expecting this news from you. I didn’t think you’d keep us waiting just to say you weren’t pregnant. I new chapter in you life is about to begin. How fast things have changed for you!

    • I seem to go through the normal procedure here now. Once a month is still doable, but going to the hospital and spending half a day there every third day is quite exhausting, especially if you have early pregnancy symptoms like being tired all the time and feeling nauseated easily. If it’s an offer and you can say yes or no, it’s okay I guess, but in my case the doctor made us feel like it would not be safe for the baby not to do blood works that often.

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  10. Rosie Z

    I also feel a bit cheated, as I have been pressed to have an ultrasound every time I visit the doctor. Not only is it a waste of money, but a complete waste of time. One time I had to wait nearly two hours, all while trying not to wet my pants! I do think part of it is so that the doctor can receive some extra cash, though they may actually believe constant ultrasounds are necessary. IDK.

    Look forward to reading more about your experience. I’m due next month and will be giving birth in China. 🙂

    • That sounds like too many ultrasounds. I have ultrasounds once in a while, at most every two months.

      Wishing you all the best for the birth, enjoy the last few weeks of pregnancy! And let us know how everything went 😀

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